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5 Piastres 1952, Libya

in Krause book Number: 12
Years of issue: 24.03.1952
Edition: 4 000 000
Signatures: no signature
Serie: Treasury Law of 24.10.1951
Specimen of: 11.1951
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 114 х 59
Printer: TDLR (Thomas de la Rue & Company), London

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5 Piastres 1952




5 Piastres 1952

First Issue.

On 13 December 1951 the British Government had undertaken to provide one-hundred percent backing in sterling for the initial issue of the new Libyan currency and on 3 January 1952 Libya was included in the Sterling Area. The new Libyan currency was placed into circulation on 24 March 1952. During the period of exchange the new currency was swapped for the existing currencies at the following rates:

1 Libyan pound = 480 British Military Authority Lire

1 Libyan pound = 97½ Egyptian Piastres

1 Libyan Pound = 980 Algerian Francs

After the period of exchange, the following amounts were handed over to the British Government:

1,216,247,049 British Military Authority Lire (2,533,848 Libyan pounds)

1,113,794 Egyptian pounds (1,085,949 Libyan pounds)

141,377,493 Algerian Francs (144,263 Libyan pounds)

The period of exchange was originally scheduled to be three months. While this period remained unchanged in Tripolitania, ending on 24 June 1952, the period in which the old currencies could be redeemed was shortened in the other two provinces. The period of exchange ended in Cyrenaica on 25 April 1952 and in the Fezzan on 12 April 1952. These dates were also the dates after which the Libyan pound became the sole legal tender in each of the provinces.

The banknotes of the Libyan Currency Commission were issued in seven denominations — 10, 5, 1, ½, and ¼ pounds, and 10 and 5 piastres. The four higher denomination notes — 10, 5, 1, and ½ pounds — were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson and Company Limited, while the remaining denominations — ¼ pound, 10 piastres, and 5 piastres — were printed by Thomas De La Rue and Company Limited. This division of production and obvious difference in design by the two printers appears to have overturned the earlier decision to adopt the Bradbury Wilkinson ‘A’ design, previously approved by the Preparatory Currency Committee in Geneva.

The front of the notes printed by Thomas De La Rue have a portrait of King Idris at the left and a palm tree above two crossed branches at the right. The notes printed by Bradbury Wilkinson similarly have a portrait of King Idris at the left, but the right-hand side of the notes are dominated by the denomination of the note in Arabic numerals. The lack of consistency between the design of the lower denomination notes and the higher denomination notes is emphasized by the portrait of King Idris. On the notes designed by Bradbury Wilkinson a profile of the King is used, while a three-quarter face is used on the De La Rue designed notes.

The three lower denomination notes prepared by De La Rue have no watermark and are printed entirely by the lithographic process. The Bradbury Wilkinson notes are printed by the intaglio and lithographic processes and have a watermark. The watermark replicates the portrait of King Idris which appears to the left of the notes; but while the portrait on the note faces to the right, the portrait in the watermark faces to the left.

Each note has two serial numbers, one in the top left and one in the bottom right on the front of the notes. The number in the top left uses Arabic letters and numerals, while the number in the bottom right uses Latin letters and western numerals. The serial number prefixes are fractional, consisting of a letter over a number, and each denomination is assigned a letter within the prefix. The Latin letters assigned to each denomination are:

A 10 pounds

B 5 pounds

C 1 pound

D ½ pound

F ¼ pound

H 10 piastres

K 5 piastres

It is not known why the letters ‘E’, ‘G’, ‘I’ and ‘J’ were not used in the sequence. A reason for omitting the first three of these four letters could be that they have no directly corresponding Arabic letter, but the letter ‘J’ can usually be transliterated as ‘jiim’. (The sample set of notes available for the observation of serial number prefixes has been very low.)

A peculiarity of the notes is that they have no signatures on them. The lack of signatures was forecast in the ‘Report on the second session of the Meeting of Experts on Libyan financial, monetary and development problems held in Geneva from 20 April to 27 April 1951.’ The report states:

"Therefore, it is recommended that a Preparatory Committee be appointed with limited powers to proceed with the printing of notes and the minting of coins and with power to provide for the costs of its operations through a loan to be discharged by the Libyan Currency Authority from its future earnings. The notes need not necessarily bear signatures of the issuing authority."

It was realized that, because the members of the permanent ‘Currency Authority’ could not be known at the time the notes were printed, signatures would have to be excluded from the notes. That this point is specifically minuted in the Report suggests that some discussion took place over this issue.

Another feature that can be ascribed to the uncertainty surrounding the preparation of the first issue is the dates that appear on the notes. The dates are ‘3 Rabi II 1371’ and ‘1 January 1952’. When the notes were being designed, there was uncertainty as to when the new currency would be required and when the pertinent currency laws would be passed. This made it impossible to place dates authorizing the issue within the design. As a compromise, the date nominated by the United Nations as the date by which Libya must achieve independence was the date chosen to place on the banknotes.

The text on the front of the notes is in Arabic and is repeated in English on the back of the notes (except that the order of the text is slightly different and the Hejira date is not mentioned in the English text). The Arabic text on the front of the note can be translated as:

"Kingdom of Libya


3 Rabi II 1371

1 January 1952

These currency notes are legal tender for the payment of any amount".

Subsequent to the introduction of the new currency, the Commission believed that the notes may not have been issued in the optimum mix. The following extract from the First Report of the Libyan Currency Commission identifies their concerns:

"In the light of experience gained, it is possible that a larger proportion of £L5 and £L10 notes should have been issued. Outside Tripoli and Benghazi practically all business is transacted on a cash basis, and it is quite common for a merchant to carry several thousand pounds in notes on his person. Notes of larger denominations also would, no doubt, have been readily absorbed, but the Commission felt that such issues would be against the interests of Libya, as they would tend to encourage frontier trading and hoarding."

The first series of notes circulated for three years, after which it was decided to introduce a new series of notes. It is probable that, after three years, a new order of notes was necessary to replace dwindling reserves. The requirement for a new order of notes offered an opportunity to change certain features of the notes. It was now possible to include the details of the law authorizing the issue of the banknotes, and it was possible to include the signatures of two members of the Libyan Currency Commission.

King Idris I King Idris IOn left side is El Sayyid Prince Muhammad Idris bin Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi.

Idris, GBE (Arabic: إدريس الأول‎), also known as "King Idris I of Libya" (born El Sayyid Prince Muhammad Idris bin Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi; 12 March 1889 – 25 May 1983), was the first and only King of Libya, reigning from 1951 to 1969, and the chief of the Senussi Muslim order. While in Turkey for medical treatment, Idris was deposed in a 1969 coup d'etat by army officers led by Muammar Gaddafi.

Born at Al-Jaghbub, the headquarters of the Senussi movement, on 12 March 1889, the son of Sayyid Muhammad al-Mahdi bin Sayyid Muhammad al-Senussi and his third wife Aisha bint Muqarrib al-Barasa, Idris was a grandson of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali as-Senussi, the founder of the Senussi Muslim Sufi order and the Senussi tribe in North Africa. His lineage is considered to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed. He became chief of the Senussi order in 1916 following the abdication of his cousin Sayyid Ahmed Sharif es Senussi. He was recognized by the British under the new title "emir" of the territory of Cyrenaica, a position also confirmed by the Italians in 1920. He was also installed as Emir of Tripolitania on 28 July 1922.

Idris spent the early part of his career attempting to negotiate independence for Cyrenaica. In 1922, following the Italian military campaigns against Libya, he went into exile. Egypt then served as his base in a guerrilla war against the colonial Italian authorities.

With the help of the British Military Administration of Cyrenaica, Idris proclaimed an independent Emirate of Cyrenaica in 1949. He was also invited to become Emir of Tripolitania, another of the three traditional regions that now constitute modern Libya (the third being Fezzan). By accepting he began the process of uniting Libya under a single monarchy. A constitution was enacted in 1949 and adopted in October 1951. A national congress elected Idris as King of Libya, and as Idris I he proclaimed the independence of the United Kingdom of Libya as a sovereign state on 24 December 1951.

From Benghazi, Idris led the team negotiating over independence with the United Kingdom and the United Nations under UN special adviser to Libya, Dutch born Adrian Pelt, which was achieved on 24 December 1951 with the proclamation of the federal United Libyan Kingdom with Idris as king. In 1963 the constitution was revised to become a unitary state as the Kingdom of Libya. Earl Mountbatten was a close friend of Idris and used to visit him in Libya often and stay at the palace. Both Idris and Earl Mountbatten used to enjoy going together on excursion trips into the Sahara Desert.

In 1955, failing to have produced a male heir, he convinced Fatima, his wife of 20 years, to let him marry a second wife, Aliya Abdel Lamloun, daughter of a wealthy Bedouin chief. The second marriage took place on 5 June 1955. Both wives then became pregnant, and each bore him a son.

To the chagrin of Arab nationalists at home and supporters of Pan-Arabism in neighbouring states, Idris maintained close ties with the United Kingdom and the United States, even after the former intervened against Egypt during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Another threat to his kingdom was his failure to produce a surviving male heir to succeed to the throne. In 1956, Idris designated his brother's son, Prince Hasan as-Senussi, as the "black prince" or "crown prince".

The economy prospered from its oil fields and the presence of the United States Air Force's Wheelus Air Base near Tripoli, but the King's health began to falter and the crown prince assumed a greater role in the government and from time to time acted as regent. On 4 August 1969, Idris signed an instrument of abdication in favour of Crown Prince Hasan as-Senussi, to take effect on 2 September that year.

On 1 September 1969, while Idris was in Turkey for medical treatment, he was deposed in a coup d'état by a group of Libyan Army officers under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi. The monarchy was abolished and a republic proclaimed. The coup pre-empted Idris's abdication and the succession of his heir the following day. From Turkey, he and the Queen travelled to Kamena Vourla, Greece, by ship and went into exile in Egypt. After the 1969 coup, Idris was put on trial in absentia in the Libyan People's Court and sentenced to death in November 1971.

In 1983, at age 94, Idris died at the Sultan Palace in the district of Dokki in Cairo. He was buried at Al-Baqi' Cemetery, Medina, Saudi Arabia.

On right side is a palm tree with two branches, crossed at the bottom.


5 Piastres 1952


Denominations in numerals are in all corners, in words centered.


About the history of Libyan pound from 1942 till 1955 you can read here Peter Symes